Balancing Freedom and Restraint in Yoga
By Ray Long
The work of legendary furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames has been described as a balance of freedom and restraint.Mr. Eames was once asked: “Have you ever been forced to accept compromises?” He responded: “I don’t remember ever being forced to accept compromises, but I have willingly accepted constraints.”1 Practicing yoga also involves working within constraints–those of the general form of the human body and also our personal limitations. Yoga balances freedom and restraint.
Knowledge of the body shows us where to expand and where to restrict movement. It also allows us to design a practice to fit our individual needs. That’s why working with a modified version of a particular pose is not a compromise—it’s accepting constraints. I don’t abandon a beneficial asana simply because it’s difficult. Rather, I use awareness of my limitations as a guide for determining how to work in the pose.
For example, if I’m working towards Lotus Pose, I apply biomechanics and physiological reflex arcs to gain freedom of movement in the hips while at the same time using the muscular stabilizers and my hands to ensure congruency of the knee as a hinge. This is an example of balancing freedom with restraint. Since we also benefit from preparing the body for a pose, the journey itself becomes the reward.
Always, in your particular case, consult your health care provider before practicing yoga or any other exercise program. Always practice yoga
under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor. See full disclaimer here.
Author; Ray Long
Here is a selection of some of the other articles posted here by Ray Long:
- Degenerative Disc Disease, The Sushumna Nadi and Yoga January 25, 2013 By Ray Long “A sword by itself rules nothing. It only comes alive in skilled hands.” Sir Te to Governor Yu in the martial arts classic, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. With this in mind, let’s look at a condition that affects the spinal column and, thus, has the potential to affect the Sushumna Nadi. Degenerative disc disease ...
- Using the TFL to Refine Utthita Parsvakonasana March 23, 2013 By Ray Long Author; Ray Long View Profile Visit Ray’s Website http://www.dailybandha.com http://www.bandhayoga.com Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
- Preventing Yoga Injuries vs Preventing Yoga, Part III: Joint Mobility, Stability and Proprioception January 19, 2014 By Ray Long A central concept in all healing arts is that of correcting imbalances within the body. The principle of re-establishing balance can be found across all cultures from Navajo sand paintings, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine to modern allopathy. And anything with true healing power also has the capacity to cause injury when ...
- Preventing Yoga Injuries vs Preventing Yoga, Part I: The Hip Labrum January 19, 2014 By Ray Long I’m thinking the ancients were onto something. Meaning this (possibly) 5,000 year old art that so many of us enjoy practicing and teaching. I’m talking about the tradition of Hatha yoga. The one that includes putting our bodies into poses like Uttanasana, Dandasana, Padmasana (Full Lotus), Sirsasana (Headstand) etc. Now, part of that ...
- Lengthening the Torso in Forward Bends January 26, 2013 By Ray Long In “Preventative Strategies for Lower Back Strains Part I,” we discussed femoral-pelvic and lumbar-pelvic rhythm, muscles that influence these rhythms, and the effects of these muscles on the lumbar spine. Here, our discussion progresses as we cover the trunk, the thoraco-lumbar fascia (TLF), Uddiyana Bandha and how accurate knowledge of this can be ...
- Antagonist/Synergist Combinations in Yoga March 14, 2013 By Ray Long Author; Ray Long View Profile Visit Ray’s Website http://www.dailybandha.com http://www.bandhayoga.com Share this:FacebookTwitterGoogle
- Preventing Yoga Injuries vs Preventing Yoga, Part II: Joint Hypermobility January 19, 2014 By Ray Long In this post we discuss labral tears and the condition of joint hypermobility. I also present the case of a specific injury from yoga practice, its biomechanical basis and the steps that can be taken to aid in its prevention. First, however, let’s look at the concept of association vs causality. Simply put, ...